On October 11, in Sochi, Russia, two summits were held at the level of the Council of Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC). Russia holds the status of coordinator for 2017.
The summit was attended by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Eurasian Economic Commission, Tigran Sargsyan and President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon – with guest status.
At the meeting of the CIS Council, besides those mentioned above, also participated: Tajikistan President Emamoli Rahmon, President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov – with guest status. Within the CIS and SEEC meetings were also held bilateral meetings, in particular with the Presidents of Tajikistan, the Republic of Moldova, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with whom topics from the bilateral and regional agenda were discussed.
Following the meetings of the Summit, Vladimir Putin made a statement for the press, in which he presented a summary of the work sessions and the decisions taken for the future. Thus the main directions of the summits were:
Modernizing and improving CIS
As far as the CIS is concerned, discussions have taken place, both within a narrow and broader framework, decisions have been made on adapting multilateral cooperation frame within the CIS to contemporary realities. Specifically, there will be a redistribution of authority between the Heads of the State Council and the Heads of the Government Council. Governments will now have to deal with a wide range of tasks, while leaders will no longer be burdened with routine issues and will have the opportunity to focus on formulating strategies from key areas in the development of the association.
In addition, the CIS Executive Committee’s proposals on further streamlining the activity of the CIS Economic Council and the Foreign Ministers Council were approved. It agreed to extend Executive Committee Chairman and CIS Executive Secretary Mr Lebedev’s mandate by two more years. Under its leadership, the Executive Committee aims to work effectively to achieve the objectives of the Community (CIS).
Exploit the commercial dimension
Discussions have taken place to capitalize on the potential of CIS to increase trade and investment and expand industrial and technological cooperation.
The participants agreed to make further efforts to boost trade, which increased by 25% to 75 billion USD since the beginning of 2017. It also highlighted the need for an active approach to harmonize CIS standards and the Eurasian Economic Union standards and to remove barriers for the free movement of goods and services.
Strengthening Cultural Cooperation
The members decided to continue the practice of holding CIS thematic years. The year of 2017 is the Year of the Family. Next year, 2018, will be the Year of Culture, and 2019 the Year of Books. The year 2020 will be dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the victory of the former USSR in the Second World War. Also, the following cultural capitals of the CIS were chosen – the city of Gyandzha in Azerbaijan will be followed by the Armenian city of Goris.
Close coordination on foreign and security policy
According to Vladimir Putin, CIS states are confronted with the threat posed by the spread of terrorism and extremism and intends to increase the exchange of information and experience among competent bodies, including in the effort to combat the money laundering. To that end, the concept of cooperation in combating terrorist financing and the concept of combating corruption, as well as a number of other important documents, have been approved. CIS Chairmanship will pass from Russia to Tajikistan on 1 January 2018.
The Common Customs Code will enter into force on 1 January 2018
At the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, exchanges of views on the status and prospects of the development of the Eurasian Union took place. The leaders of the Eurasian Union countries reaffirmed their interest in further deepening of integration and supported the speedy completion of internal procedures to ratify the Common Customs Code and to ensure that it enters into force on 1 January 2018.
Cooperation in the digital economy
To that end, the Council approved the main components of the implementation of the Union’s digital agenda until 2025. The Group of Five made the decision to develop an interstate programme for cooperation in outer space services and in integrating existing national systems of Earth remote sensing. It also encouraged more active use of the Eurasian Development Bank and the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization to finance joint industrial, agricultural and infrastructure projects.
Eurasian Union cooperation with other countries and integration associations
Priority in this area will be given to deepening the cooperation with CIS member states that are not yet members of the Eurasian Economic Union.The Eurasian Economic Commission has also been tasked with drafting a statute for Union Observatory Countries.
At the extended meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union, Igor Dodon participated as a guest. Vladimir Putin said that relations with the Republic of Moldova will only be strengthened on the basis of the extent to which the Republic of Moldova and its citizens are ready to extend this cooperation. In 2018, the chairmanship of the Eurasian Economic Union will pass to Russia.